It’s the kind of attack not even Pikachu could protect you from: Pokemon Go players in Missouri were reportedly robbed at gunpoint while visiting real-world game locations.
The wildly popular app combines cartoon action with local landmarks, and has users wandering around outside looking for places to catch monsters. The game also features “Poke Stops,” where fans can collect supplies and “gyms” to let their characters do battle.
One player, Nikolas Howard, told local NBC station KSDK that a black BMW pulled up when he arrived at a Poke Stop in O’Fallon, Missouri on Saturday night.
“There were four kids inside,” Howard told the station. “The kid in the back passenger seat had a silver pistol. He got out of the car and put it into my face, told me to ‘lose my stuff.’”
Police said they arrested Shane Michael Baker and Jamine James D. Warner, both 18, William Miller, 17, and an unidentified 16-year-old for a string of Pokemon-related robberies.
“It is believed these suspects targeted their victims through the Pokemon Go smartphone application,” the department wrote on Facebook.
Police said the suspects used a “beacon” in the game to call more players to a specific locations. However, one of the victims told Snopes that there was no beacon. He was simply robbed at a Poke Stop.
“I was walking down a dark street towards a slightly out of the way Poke Stop and I got robbed by four kids in a black BMW,” the unnamed victim told the website. “Everyone is reporting this as cunning teenagers use a lure to capture unsuspecting Pokemon players, and that’s not quite correct.”
Along with the robbery, people playing the game have gone out at night to supposedly unsafe locations in search of the game’s monsters:
Others have been hunting for the creatures in cemeteries:
And in one case, a teen playing the game found a body in a river.
The three named suspects in the O’Fallon robberies were charged with first degree robbery and armed criminal action, with a bond set at $100,000, the department said. The fourth suspect, a juvenile, was transferred to the juvenile justice center.
The Pokemon Company and Niantic, makers of the game, released a statement urging players “to be aware of their surroundings and to play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar places,” according to CBS News.
Howard told KSDK that he would not let the incident scare him away from the game.
“It’s encouraged me to walk 12 miles in the last 36 hours so I hope people like this don’t discourage people from playing the game,” he said.
Police caution gamers to be careful out there.
“If you use this app (or other similar type apps) or have children that do we ask you to please use caution when alerting strangers of your future location,” the department wrote.
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